IKEA helping the issue of waste

15/10/20

Diane Hall

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Ikea shopping trollies parked up

The impact that humans have had on the planet during the last hundred years or so has been a huge cause for concern for climate scientists and activists. Since the Industrial Revolution, the damage we have done has been more devastating than the many centuries before this. Manufacturing and our approach to the waste we produce has seen ecosystems collapse, the ozone layer all but disappear, melting of the ice caps, and the quality of the air we breathe negatively impacted.


The drive to recycle has been one initiative to slow the damage to our climate. Our landfill sites benefit when we mend, reuse, rehash or pass on to others the things we don’t want anymore. 


IKEA is the king of flatpack furniture sold at relatively cheap prices. Recently, the Swedish firm launched a campaign to reduce customers’ waste whilst still allowing them to change their décor on a regular basis (after all, the last thing they would want to do, as a furniture business, is to put people off buying new items).


The company’s ‘Buy Back’ scheme invites people to ‘part-exchange’ their unwanted furniture; if they offload items they don’t want to an IKEA branch they receive vouchers to spend in store. IKEA then sells the second-hand pieces to customers who perhaps can’t afford to purchase new furniture, people who like a bargain, or those amongst us who actively enjoy upcycling pieces and putting their own stamp on things.


IKEA believes its scheme is helpful to the environment and encourages people to dispose of their unwanted items in a responsible way, rather than simply chucking them in a skip or taking them down to the council tip. On another level, such an initiative may also reduce the amount of fly-tipping that goes on, or it might discourage people from getting rid of their unwanted furniture with a bonfire, which could aggravate the health of other people in the vicinity.


The value of the voucher customers will receive in exchange for their second-hand furniture depends on its condition; ‘as new’ items will qualify for a 50% refund of their original price, pieces with minor evidence of wear and tear will receive 40% of the original RRP, whereas items that are visibly ‘well used’ will see 30% of their original cost refunded. Any furniture that is of too poor a condition to sell on will be donated to charity for recycling or community use.


The ethos behind the idea, according to IKEA, is to stem the ‘excessive consumption’ we see today. Says Peter Jelkeby, Country Retail Manager and Chief Sustainability Officer for Ikea UK and Ireland, “Sustainability is the defining issue of our time and Ikea is committed to being part of the solution to promote sustainable consumption and combat climate change.”


The campaign is only for unwanted/used IKEA furniture, i.e. it’s not a free-for-all for homeowners to offload all of their unwanted items, irrespective of where they were originally purchased. 


The thought behind the scheme appears to be genuine, and a way for customers to spend their money more responsibly whilst still enjoying new trends and updating their décor. A huge plus is that the vouchers given to spend in store are not dated, meaning that consumers can have a clear out at any time, and not just when they’re in the process of redecorating/reconfiguring their living space. Customers on a budget can find these unwanted items in the bargain section of IKEA stores. 


It certainly appears to be a scheme where everyone wins, the planet included.


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